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A Guide To RC Car Repairs and Maintenance

Professional RC racers follow one cardinal rule, races are won in pits and workshop bench instead of tracks.

Constant RC car repairs, cleaning, maintenance and replacement of your RC vehicle parts will ensure that you get a long life from your car without it becoming a financial drain.

If your car is non-responsive to a transmitter, running slowly, feeling greater shocks and impacts, becoming non-steerable, emitting grinding and whirring noises or behaving wobbly on tracks, then it is high time for you to sit down in a workshop and start the necessary repairs.

In most cases, with the right set of tools and mechanical expertise, you can skip costly visits to repair shops and avoid discarding your car in a dumpster.

 

Cleaning Your Ride:

Keeping your radio-controlled car clean is of utmost importance; in fact, it is the first step you must take before starting on repairs.

Cleaning properly helps remove dust particles, prevents dirt from sticking to glued parts, keeps your pivot balls running smoothly, and gives your car an overall shiny new look.

It also helps in minimizing gears, bearings and suspension damage as dust and dirt get removed reducing damage through wear and tear.

 

You can simply clean using a rag while for the inner body and chassis you should give a complete spray using Dyanmite Absolute Force. Once cleaner is applied, blow it off using a compressor.

Always remember to stay away from electronics while applying cleaner, instead use a brush or a rag to clean sensitive motor, ECS, and servo parts.


Repairing Your Tires and Rim:

 

Tires are in contact with the ground at all times and naturally get the worst damage. Tires are responsible for traction, proper grip and car control. Before racing inspect your tires closely and look for any damaged treads.

If the damage is too much your best bet is to replace them and get a new set of wheels. While purchasing new wheels focus on the type of tracks you would be racing on as tire material, treading and design changes for dirt, clay, loamy, concrete and off-road tracks.

Make sure to check the bond between tire and rim. If a bond is weakened or tire is loose, it is time to get your glue out.

Before applying glue remove any dust present and apply a toothbrush to get rid of stuck dirt and used glue between tire and rim. Use a high quality CA glue specifically designed for RC cars.


Keeping An Eye Out for Screws and Nuts:

 

Screws and nuts hold your RC car together as they attach your body to the chassis frame. Furthermore, they are also present on servo motors, gearbox and drive train.

If you are going to perform internal repairs or removing the body, keep a close eye on your screws. If possible, label screws appropriately to avoid mixing up.

 

Similarly, before starting a race ensure that all screws and nuts are tightly secured. If there is too little thread lock between a screw and metal parts, it might come out during racing. Use Philips screw drivers and CA glue to keep everything firmly tightened.


Opening Servo Gears For Repair:

 

Servos allow your RC to move forward and steer itself in different directions. A servo is connected with a steering rod which rotates the wheels based on throttle direction.

Sometimes wheels might be turning but RC refuses to move forward while at other times it might not respond to steering signals at all.

 

In both cases, check your servo wiring connections with the receiver. If you start hearing a whirring sound in conjunction with transmitter movement then you should check servo from inside.

Remove the four screws using Philips screwdriver and take out the upper plate. In the next step, you need to focus on the servo gear train to find any gears with missing teeth. Replace the broken gears with new ones to get your servo completely repaired.


Checking Batteries and Transmitters:

 

Always check batteries and transmitters before getting on track. For single channel transmitter, its frequency must match RC frequency found at the bottom near on/off switch.

It is advisable to use a multi-channel transmitter if multiple cars are racing at the same time.

Rechargeable batteries are a great way to save your expenses. LiPo and NiMH are quite common with chargers readily available. If a battery is corroded remove it as early as possible to prevent further damage to your internal electronics.


Maintaining Suspensions:

 

The suspension provides linkage between shock absorbers and wheels allowing your car to move forward. During racing continuous collisions, wobbly tracks, jumps and striking against pipes may lead to suspension damage.

If your car is being too wobbly then you should check suspension arms.

Remove the front and rear shock absorbers and lift the suspensions. Let go of the suspension arm and allow it to fall under its own weight.

Non-falling suspension arms usually mean broken or bent hinge pins. Replace or repair the selected hinge pins with new ones to get your car running smoothly again.


Feeling and Repairing Shock Absorbents:

It is a great practice to check your shock absorbent as well when you remove them for suspension maintenance.

Shock absorbents prevent your wheels from leaving the ground too often and give for a less jumpy and smoother racing experience with the required friction. For a quick check, simply compress the shock and feel the resistance.

Heavy resistance may indicate a bent shock shaft or low oil. To dismantle shocks for repair you may need pliers, small wrench, and a Torx screwdriver.

Once you have taken out the retainer, spring and shock cap, you can install a new shock bladder. You should also replace old oil and fill the shock 4/5th with oil to prevent any leakage.


Plugging Wires and Electronics:

For an RC, proper electronic connections between wires are very important. Make sure that there are proper connections between servo, motor, electronic speed controller and battery packs.

Continuous wear and tear and contact with drive trains are usually responsible for removal of insulation and short circuits. Check your RC to ensure all wires are properly soldered and that there are no short circuits present.


Inspecting Spur and Pinion Gears:

It is entirely possible that due to continuous collisions your gear train might get whacked or you may end up with gear slippage, broken teeth, and dirt particles.

Open up the gear box and clean the gear train using a cleaner. Look for the broken teeth or gear slippage and replace any parts.

Broken or damaged drive train can be easily detected if your motor is running but the back wheels are not performing at all. You may want to replace plastic gears with more durable metal ones during maintenance for longer lasting life.



Now that we have covered a RTR electric car, lets focus on RC nitro repairs

 

Setting up RC nitro cars can indeed be a little bit tricky. In fact, setting one up will prove to me more tedious than setting up, say, and electric RC car.

However, when you get to have your nitro engine running, you will be given more freedom in making adjustments that will improve your RC car’s performance.

For instance, you can customize your car’s carburetor and determine yourself how much air and fuel you want to be used by the car’s engine.

But then again, you should always take care when you do any customization to your car because if you do anything wrong, then it could lead to its early demise.

In order for nitro RC cars to run, it needs nitro fuel. This fuel requires special handling, and is needs to be kept away from flames because it is highly flammable. Aside from this, this type of fuel should avoid evaporation and addition of water, which may render it unusable.

Using a fail-safe device is often a lifesaving addition this type of RC car.

These fail-safe devices often provide users with peace of mind and they usually provide cheap ways to avoid any major and expensive repairs to your cars, these problems include those that result from runaway and crashes that are attributed to bad signals.


Like any other car, remote controlled cars require regular maintenance. After running nitro RC cars for a while, it is essential to do after-run maintenance.

While all remote controlled cars are in need of this particular maintenance step, there are a few more additions to the maintenance test when you have this type of RC vehicle.

Here are the additions to the after-run maintenance test when using nitro RC cars:

Drain fuel tank:

Not draining a nitro fuel tank may cause some of the nitro fuel to condense inside the tank and eventually lead to serious damage to your special nitro engine.

Remember that the nitro fuel is alcohol-based and is thereby very susceptible to moisture mixing with it. Remember that RC nitro cars engines run on a fuel that is a combination of oil, methanol, and nitro methane.

As such, it is very important that you use only the proper combination of these three elements on your car. If you find at any given time that your car is not running on its optimum speed, it may be well caused by poor or the wrong fuel combination.

You should also take care to check your car’s fuel lines for cracks because they may cause your engine not to work. To avoid these, check the fuel lines before every race ad remove all the dirt or any residue before use.


Clean the air filters:

So long as you’re using your nitro RC cars, whether it is on the racetrack or somewhere with your friends, dirt and other forms of debris will get stuck in your car’s air filters.

Remember to clean them regularly to maintain your car’s optimal performance. Air filters help keep the car’s engine clean from dust, debris, and any form of dirt.

Keep in mind that a working air filter equates to a smoothly running car, so be sure to remember to clean it regularly or maybe even after every use.

If however, you find that you will be unable to give it a proper cleaning, then don’t try to do it yourself and have a toy technician do it for you.


Add after-burn oil:

Before putting your car away after use, add after-burn oil to the cylinder so that everything in the engine is lubricated and ready for the next time. Not doing this practice may cause serious damage to the cylinder head.

You should also look out for bad tires. Never try to race with your RC nitro cars on a bad tire.

Make sure that you always check them before launching. You should also take extra measure to ensure that you have the right tire type for your car. This will make sure that it will run smoothly.

Troubleshoot and repair problems. If there’s a problem with running your nitro engine, isolate and fix the problem.

You don’t have to have any master’s degree in mechanical engineering to fix your car; just a lot of time and patience.

Running nitro RC cars can be very tricky because it uses a fuel mixture that is highly flammable. They are considered to be faster than their electric powered counterparts, even running in the same speed, as the latter is sometimes dangerous because of the existence of its nitro fuel-filled tank. It is for these reasons that running these cars should be treated with caution and extra attention.


Upgrade:

This is the most exciting part of owning nitro RC cars. It is not essential for you to do any upgrade until the nitro engine or some other part of your RC car fails.

But a little upgrading can be fun and at some point during ownership, you will want to have something done to customize your car to make it more your own.

Note too that if you haven’t used your toy car in a while, it is very prudent to have it tested and tune it first so you can make sure that every important component is clean and everything is fully functional.

Take care to check for clogged parts, loose screws, broken components, and debris.


Conclusion:

Performing repair checks on your vehicle can make the difference between winning or losing on the big day. For longer life, be sure to perform preventive maintenance, repair, and cleaning of all RC parts.

Always remember that good maintenance of your RC car is important, and if you don’t do this, you may only be spending more. Keep it in good condition, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money for repairs.

No matter what build state your RC vehicle is in, RTR, ARR or Kit, do take the time to read and follow manufacturers operating instructions.

Almost all RC vehicles come with a very good operators manual and instructions. Learning just how your RC vehicle is put together and how different things work is very important. It can save many hours of frustration.

If you are considering the RC hobby, go hang out are your local hobby shop and/or race track, if you have one close by.

If you have access to a computer check out many of the manufacturer’s web sites, check out many of the RC forums.

Do not be afraid to ask questions. To have fun with this hobby it is important to have as much knowledge as possible before you buy your first RC vehicle.